Build a Better Taco Step 1: Yogurt Sour “Cream”

Sour "Cream"

Sour “Cream”

When I build a taco, it’s done from the bottom up: taco shell, taco filling, taco sauce, sour “cream”, tomatoes and lettuce. To get ready for Tacos I start from the top down to prep some of the toppings. I have two non-dairy alternatives for sour “cream”. The simplest version is a super thick soy or almond milk yogurt. A slightly less-simple version (yet still easy) is to mix the yogurt with an equal amount of cashew cream and some lemon juice. Since I haven’t had much luck finding a decent unsweetened non-dairy yogurt where I live, I make my own in an Instant Pot. At first my results were “hit-or-miss”, but I have the technique down to be confident enough to share it with you. The basic technique is to heat milk to180F to kill any bad bacteria, then cool it to 110F. This is very important since temperatures over 110F will kill the yogurt cultures. When the yogurt has achieved the thickness and sour taste you like you can refrigerate it as is. If you wish to use it as sour “cream”, you will need to strain it through butter muslin to get rid of the whey. It may seem like a daunting task to make your own yogurt, but once you’ve done it a few times it just becomes routine. Of course, you can always opt to purchase commercially-made non-dairy sour “cream”. In either case, stay tuned. I will be sharing my recipes for no-salt added Taco Seasoning, Taco Sauce and Mushroom Tacos. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Here’s a list of things you need to make the yogurt:

  • An Instant Pot with the yogurt function. If you don’t already own an Instant Pot, it’s worth looking into. It’s an electric pressure cooker and slow cooker all in one. If you’re thinking about getting one, I suggest you go all out and get the one with the yogurt function as it will maintain the temperature of the milk consistently at 110F.
  • Soy milk or Almond Milk. I found out the hard way that the key to making yogurt is that the milk has to be made with filtered water and no additives. If you use tap water, the chlorine will kill all that good bacteria in the yogurt culture and it will not thicken and get that sour taste. Sometimes I make my own almond milk with filtered water. Other times I buy Westsoy Organic Plain Soy milk. I will give instructions on making your own almond milk below.
  • Vegan Yogurt Culture. I’ve had success using Belle & Bella Yogurt starter, so I won’t recommend any other brand.
  • Nut milk bag, usually made from butter muslin, to strain the almond milk.

To Make Homemade Almond Milk

Measure 1 quart of filtered or bottled water into blender container. Add 7-1/2 oz. of raw, blanched almonds. Process on high until the almonds are very fine. Depending on your blender it might take two to three minutes.  Hold a nut milk bag over a large container. Pour milk into the bag and squeeze out the liquid. You should have one quart of milk.

To Make Homemade Almond or Soy Milk Yogurt

You can use home made almond or soy milk that’s been made with filtered or bottled water. You can also use 1 quart of Westsoy Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk.

  • 1 quart soy or almond milk
  • 1 packet of Belle & Bella Yogurt Starter
  1. Pour one quart of milk into a two-quart glass Pyrex measuring cup. Heat in the microwave until the temperature of the milk reaches 180F. Pour into the Instant Pot insert and let the milk cool to 110F.
  2. Add yogurt starter (this is called “pitching”) and whisk just enough to dissolve. Cover the Instant Pot, leaving the vent to “open”. Press the yogurt button and adjust the timer to 12 hours. You can check the yogurt after 8 hours to see if it’s thick and tangy. The longer you leave it, the thicker and tangier it will get.
  3. If there is a lot of liquid (whey), you can strain it by lining a colander with a piece of butter muslin or cheese cloth and allowing the yogurt to drain. Spoon into covered containers and refrigerate. This yogurt lasts for about one week.

There is conflicting information about using your home made yogurt as the starter for subsequent batches. Some say that you must use a fresh packet of culture, meaning that you have to keep buying the commercial starter. I’ve had consistent success using 2 tablespoons of my existing batch of yogurt per quart of milk.

To Make Non-Dairy Yogurt and Cashew Sour “Cream”

Mix equal amounts of thick cashew cream and non-dairy yogurt.

Drained Yogurt & Whey

Drained Yogurt & Whey

 

 

 

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